While writing this book, we heard so many stories that we couldn’t possibly fit them all in. Here’s some “bonus” material. Enjoy!
Coming October 2, 2012
New Kids on the Block: The Story of Five Brothers and a Million Sisters
From the Band More Stories
Thanks to fan Kristin S., last week we posted this lost video of her interviewing a very young and energetic NKOTB at Barnstable High School in 1988. This week we had the chance to sit down with Jordan and hear about just what it is he thinks is so special about this early interview and why it captures the essence of NKOTB at that moment in time.
I just loved seeing that interview. I love the fact that we were all just hanging all over each other—so freaking funny. I was like, Why are they touching each other so much?
To me, the beauty of that interview is how unpolished and real we were. We were rag-tag. I’m sitting there with a leather jacket and a hoodie over that earring. What is that? I think we were polished and wise, but we also had some kind of thing in us where we knew when we could fuck around and be us and we knew when to turn it on and be a little more polished. That’s how seasoned we were even then. We knew.
It says so much. It’s so rich—there’s so much in there. The zaniness, the seriousness when Donnie’s answering questions, the deepness of the camaraderie, the fun. Then there was the inside jokes. Like when we said, ‘I’m Jon and I’m a Sagittarius’ or ‘I’m Donnie and I’m a Leo,’ we were just making fun of a typical stupid, contrived answer. That wasn’t us being serious. That was an inside joke. We were making fun of somebody who would say that.
The most fun thing [about being in NKOTB] for me is those little moments like you see in that interview. All the little inside jokes that we had—those little things, those are the best. Winning an American Music Award, that was cool, but to me that doesn’t stand out when I think about the New Kids. Just hanging out. All the little things. Like that video, that brought back memories. We were so crazy, we had so much fun, we were so close.”
– Jordan Knight / NKOTB
Over the past couple of days, my inbox has played host to an explosion of questions for Jon Knight. Some of them were funny, some of them were sweet, some of them were predictable. But there was one question I expected to see that wasn’t in there at all, which is this: Seriously, Jon—what the f@&k is up with Step 5?!?
If you’ve been to a NKOTB show in recent memory, you know that Jon seems to have some sort of aversion to singing his portion of “Step By Step.” It’s not that it never happens, but it’s a rare occurrence—like a double-rainbow or double-yolk emu egg. And when it does happen, it’s an event to behold (see the video below for evidence, right around the 2:45 mark).
Well, straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s what Jon has to say about the elusive Step 5:
People always say, ‘I want to hear you sing at the concert.’ But I sing every night at the concert.
Just because I don’t want to sing lead doesn’t mean I’m not singing at all. And then it came to a point where I just kinda didn’t want it to be known as having [Step 5] as the only contribution I make to a New Kids’ album. So I was like, ‘Well, let’s just not do it at all.’
So when we do another album, I’m just gonna bite the bullet and do my own song. And just be like, ‘See people? I told you!’”
– Jon Knight / NKOTB
And because Step 5 clips just never fail to amuse me, a couple more for good measure:
Step 5 under duress:
Step 5 with a little brotherly assistance:
Videos used courtesy of joeysmcintyre, sunfiregirl1228, and jhelen 77.
Earlier this week, we did some groundbreaking investigative work and turned up Joe’s smiley-face T-shirt, which was covertly smuggled to fan Tricia R. more than twenty ago, unbeknownst to Joe. Here’s what he has to say about this newly unearthed information:
I’ll believe it when I see it. And I’ll inspect it because I’ll know if it’s the right one.”
Ah, the memories this shirt brings up of fashion decisions of yore. Of his outfit selection for the Hangin’ Tough Live video, Joe says:
“I was all smiley-faced out because the jacket—which I still have—is a smiley face too. I realized I was wearing a smiley-faced T-shirt and a smiley-faced jacket. Boy, oh boy. I’m just so happy it’s in the loving hands of one of our fans.”
Speaking of smiling, despite everything you’ve heard over the years about the rough time Joe had fitting into NKOTB at first, here’s how he looks back on those early years when NKOTB was still just a little baby band:
It was a fun time. 1985-1986 was really not a care in the world. In many ways I was just a puppy trailing along behind everybody, but a lot of times there was a smile on my face. I was just happy to be around everybody. At a certain point it stopped because I couldn’t go out with them, I couldn’t meet girls with them because I was much further behind at that stage of my life. But it was awesome.”
And there ya have it, folks!
When the average person hears the phrase “Sacred Circle” it most likely conjures up images of meditation or tribal spiritual traditions. But in the BH World, it means something a little bit different than that when Donnie Wahlberg is on the scene.
And I came back and they were all there and I knew there were some couches around the corner, right past the elevator. And I said, ‘Alright, everyone. Look, you’re not gonna stare at me tonight. I’m not going to be in the fishbowl. Tonight you’re going in the fishbowl. Everyone come over to the couches.’
“I did this thing in Toronto one night—I was shooting the Blue Bloods pilot. I was going out through the hotel lobby and it was packed. Jam-packed. Like a hundred fans.
I sat in a chair at the head of the circle and said, ‘Everyone sit in a semi-circle. Sit down on the floor.’ They all sat down and there’s people on the couch with me and on another couch and on the floor in a huge circle. And I said, ‘This is the Sacred Circle. This is the first time it’s ever happened.’ I told them, ‘Starting with you, everyone in the circle is gonna look at you because you’re gonna tell us what your name is, what your story is, and you’re gonna tell us about you.’
And you know what started happening? Every single one of the fans—one of them was funny. One of them was touching. One of them was a little goofy, but sweet and sincere. One of them was super-sarcastic. One of them snuck out and didn’t tell her husband where she was going. Every one of them had a thing.
It was awesome. It was awesome. And the best part is I did six movie and TV projects in four years in Toronto and the same guy produced four of them. And he came walking into the hotel lobby (I wasn’t working with him this time—he was up there doing another movie) and he goes, ‘Donnie, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Dan, welcome to the Sacred Circle. It’s your turn, Dan. You have to introduce yourself and tell us about yourself.’ He said, ‘Okay, well, I’m Dan. I’m Donnie’s friend and we’ve worked together a lot. I think Donnie’s a great guy and I’m really happy you all are here to support him.’ Just so fun. So fun.
It was awesome. It was just a whim. I just didn’t want to do the same thing. I didn’t have the energy to be in the center ring of the circus that night. I wanted the fans to do it. I wanted them to see how it felt. And every one of them did it. It was fucking awesome. I was there until four in the morning. It was so much fun. I hugged every one of them goodnight.
I’ll never forget it. They’ll never forget it and neither will I. That’s what’s cool. It’s not just the fans. They have their little ‘never-forget moments’ and they may not all be the same as mine, but I got a whole bunch of them too. I got a whole bunch.”
–Donnie Wahlberg / NKOTB
Video used courtesy of ImPoe.
Be sure to check out one fan’s point-of-view of the Sacred Circle.
While in Dublin for NKOTB’s 2009 show, Donnie found himself in a cab with a very musical driver on his way back from lunch. While driving, the cabbie happened to mention that he knew the Welsh national anthem, “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.” Upon hearing this, Donnie remembers, “I said, ‘Hold on,’ because I knew we were playing Wales in two days. I said, ‘You gotta sing it!’ I had a FlipCam with me and turned it on me and said, ‘Hey, this is Donnie. My cab driver’s about to sing the Welsh national anthem.’”
When the day of the Cardiff show came, Donnie says, “I put it into the video system at the concert in Wales right before ‘Hangin’ Tough.’ The stage is black and that song came on and the whole arena is singing the Welsh national anthem. It was awesome. When that played I was just sitting there backstage like, ‘This is the shit. Who could have a better life than me right now?’ It’s so much fun, man.”
Another one of Donnie’s favorite moments from that tour happened in Scotland. The afternoon of the show, he remembers, “I go to the hotel for a little bit, got there and bumped into a fan in the lobby who got five kilts for us. I said, ‘We’re definitely wearing these tonight, I’ll bring them to the arena.’” But that wasn’t all. A few hours before the show, Donnie called a fan and asked if she could bring a DVD of Braveheart. At the end of the show, Donnie says, ” I got them to play the scene in Braveheart, ‘You’ll never take our freedom!’ It was awesome. Then we came out in the kilts. And Joe, of course, didn’t wear freaking underwear under his kilt because he had to be authentic. So funny. I’m backstage looking at everyone going crazy. I’m laughing, I’m crying. They loved it, they loved it. So much fun.”
The day of the performance became more about not busting your ass or anything. Everyone was talking about this and that and I was like, ‘Listen. The most important thing is that no one falls.’ The falling thing now, it ends up on YouTube, everyone sees it, it’s on everyone’s web site. It was raining—it’s rained almost every time we’re on the Today Show. The whole thing is that rain happening actually took the pressure off. When we did go to perform, it was kind of like ‘Just don’t fall and have fun.’ It took the pressure off.
When it started and I looked out and saw the crowd I just could not believe it. I could not believe that this many people were really interested in seeing us back out there doing it again.
The only thing I can compare that crowd reaction to is if I was put back in a position to see Larry Bird play basketball again in his prime, you know what I mean? That’s a compable feeling, probably. The look on the fans’ faces, it was clear we took them back to their youth again. Then, on top of that, you go through that whole Today Show experience that’s so overwhelming and so amazing and I’m just like, ‘What’s gonnna happen from this?’ Now here we are three years later going on our biggest tour yet since the comeback.
–Danny Wood / NKOTB
Making that video, we were very innocent. We were coming off of just having our first top ten record with “Please Don’t Go Girl.” We were kind of still living that life of not a lot of budget for the video, not a lot of money for styling. Kind of innocent, not really thinking much. We already had the song choreographed, we were gonna do the shoot in New Orleans.
I had a great time shooting the video, but you never think it’s gonna become this kind of iconic moment or dance in the whole thing. As that goes on, it’s bizarre because in those 15 years of being away, that’s one of the questions: When are you guys gonna do that Right Stuff dance? You know, it’s strange—you just don’t think things like that are ever gonna become this big moment.
So, yeah, we were innocent kids in the music business and just really trying to have a good time and make a good video and never knowing what it was going to become.
–Danny Wood / NKOTB
To tide you over while Donnie hunkers down in his technology-proof Christmas cave, here’s a little holiday-themed interview snippet about one of his favorite NKOTB performances from back in the day.
“We were going on the Arsenio Hall Show in December 1989 and performed this rap song called ‘Funky, Funky Christmas.’ Arsenio had that fat Chunky A. alter ego, so I called over and said, ‘Hey, will you rap with us like Chunky A.?’ And he was like, ‘I’ll do it.’
We had done Arsenio probably a year earlier in ‘88 when we were touring with Tiffany as her opening act. And we sucked. We were singing live, but the background vocals were being played through the keyboard. Well, the background vocals weren’t in time with the music. We were singing all the lead vocals and the background vocals, but the recorded backgrounds were there to support us. Our music director counted the band in too quick on the tempo and the song was too quick, so the backgrounds couldn’t keep time. That was a disaster.
So, when we were playing Universal Amphitheater right around Christmastime, we went and did ‘Funky, Funky Christmas’ on Arsenio. Me and Jordan, I know we talked about it a lot. We wanted to go and be great. Even though we were doing a rap song and it was a little different, we still were like, ‘Let’s go have fun, let’s not be tight, let’s make up for last time and smash this.’ We did. And Arsenio rapped with us. We were just so on a high. So high. We had so much fun. We were so free and comfortable performing that song.
During that period everything was going great. The tour was going great, we were headlining this tour with Dino and the Cover Girls. The tour was going to continue after the New Year and keep going endlessly. Our songs were all exploding. The Christmas album was a Top Ten album, Hangin’ Tough was still a Top Ten album, the first album sold 3 million copies. During that period we were so excited and proud and it was still new and fun.”
–Donnie Wahlberg / NKOTB
A little walk down memory lane:
Video used courtesy of KangK.
From You More Stories
My name is Frank, and I’m twenty-five years old, from Staten Island, New York. I participated in MTV’s True Life in 2007, which dealt with my struggles with panic attacks and agoraphobia. While on Twitter one day, to my surprise I received a message from Jonathan Knight.
Jon messaged me to tell me that he had suffered from panic attacks as well, which is part of the reason NKOTB broke up in the early 90s. He gave me great advice on how to conquer my fears and start to get better. Our friendship began to blossom and he left me tickets for their summer tour stop in Holmdel, New Jersey on June 13th, 2009. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to this show due to the fact that I was still suffering from my anxiety disorder.
Our friendship continued on Twitter, where he gave me a glimpse of life on the road. Flash-forward to Memorial Day weekend 2010: I was set to film a follow up to my previous True Life. By this time, I was rehabilitated from my anxiety disorder and ready to show the world I was capable of living a normal life again. To my surprise, MTV set up a meet and greet with the guys from NKOTB. I was finally able to tell Jonathan Knight thank you in person. Donnie, Jon, Jordan, Danny, and Joe all appeared on that MTV episode with me.
It is something that I will never forget—a guy who never met me reached out to help me and after a three-year-long wait we finally met in person. I was greeted with hugs from all the guys and we chatted for a while. It was one of MTV’s highest-rated episodes of the series. After my show aired, thousands of fans found me online to message me well wishes and thoughts. It showed me just how strong the New Kids’ fan base is.”
Get a glimpse inside Frank’s meeting with NKOTB on True Life: Where Are They Now below or on the MTV site. His portion of the episode begins around the 20:50 mark.
When I found out they were coming back, I really wanted to be in New York on that day, but that wasn’t possible. So instead I actually took the day off from work. I had to, there was no way I was going to miss this. I was so worried I was going to miss it, that my DVR wouldn’t work and it’s just not the same on YouTube. I had to see it live. I made sure my kids were all dressed and told my husband, “You have to take them to school because there’s no way I’m going to miss this.” I was waiting for The Today Show, loving all the hype around it. As soon as the first web site came out saying that NKOTB was coming back, of course I called all my girlfriends who were into it back then to make sure they were all in the loop.
I remember when they first came on-air, I had the exact same butterflies I had when I was a 13-year-old girl. So excited, to the point where I was staring at the TV, my jaw dropped. It just felt so good and they looked exactly the same. I was so excited to the point where it almost brought me to tears. After they were done with the performance, I kept going back and rewinding and watching it over and over again. It was just amazing.
–Rhea S. / Sacramento, CA
Way back when, we didn’t have cable, so every Friday me and my sister would watch Friday Night Videos. It was where I could see all the music videos. The first time “The Right Stuff” video came on I was like, Who are these guys? I remember hearing “Please Don’t Go Girl” before that, but I really didn’t know too much about the New Kids at the time, but “The Right Stuff” really caught my eye at the time. It was different than whatever else I was listening to at that time. I was into a lot of late 80s rock, but for whatever reason I was mesmerized by this music video of them in a cemetery, chasing these girls. Plus on top of it, they were pretty hot.
After that, every Friday I was dedicated to Friday Night Videos. And I would record it on my VCR—just in case they were on. I didn’t want to miss anything they were on. I was just in love from that point on. I would just stare at the video—they were just so different from anything else. The feeling was different. NKOTB was more relatable to me than White Snake or Skid Row.
–Rhea S. / Sacramento, CA
Pretty much every journalist will tell you their first interview was a nerve-wracking experience. But for Kristin St. John, who conducted her first on-air interview when she was a freshman at Barnstable High School in 1988, the pressure was really on.
When Kristin found out that New Kids on the Block would be playing a show at her high school gym, she recognized the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: to meet her favorite band and to do her first on-air interview for Barnstable High School’s television station, broadcast on the Cape Cod town’s public access channel.
When the day of the sold-out show finally rolled around on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1988, excitement was running high for those lucky students who managed to nab one of the $15 tickets. For Kristin, the excitement was tenfold—and mingled with a lot of other emotions. “I was terrified,” she laughs. “There were a ton of students trying to get into the gym long before the show because it was general admission. I was dying on the inside because not only is this my first time on the camera and I’m interviewing these guys, but I’m also trying to help deal with crowd control and set up and to make sure everything is running smoothly. My head was in 10 million places at the same time.”
Knowing this was her big opportunity, Kristin came dressed to kill for the big event. “It was 1988 so I had the big bangs and the straight hair, the big glasses, a purple sweater with a white denim skirt. I see the video of the interview now and wonder who let me dress like that?!” Kristin’s prep didn’t end with her wardrobe, though. A budding professional, she was ready to interview with the best of ‘em. “Mind you, I’m a freshman, I’d just started with this [television] club a month or so before, and this band interview is the greatest thing to happen to me since sliced bread. I had my notes all written out, trying to be all serious and do my best impression of Barbara Walters. And it was complete and utter chaos.”
Though NKOTB has long since outgrown high school auditoriums, Kristin will always fondly remember her one-of-a-kind memory of interviewing NKOTB when they were just about to break. “Looking at the interview today and seeing what an awkward 14-year-old I was, I have to say, they were so nice … really sweet guys. As nervous as I was, I could tell that Donnie, especially, was trying to get me to focus on him so I would calm down. Most professional reporters even now would probably get overwhelmed interviewing five people. But for someone who is 14 and it’s their first time interviewing anybody, it’s a whole different story. Looking at it today, I’m impressed with how Donnie helped me out. He really brought me down so I wasn’t so nervous or running around in circles.”
Well, we can’t help you out with the first two questions, but you can breathe a deep sigh of relief because we do have the answer to the third. After a lot of backbreaking investigative work (not really—it happens to be safe in the hands of a friend’s neighbor) we’ve got the answer to this burning question.
Short of the notorious topless fedora hat, it’s almost impossible to find a more iconic piece of NKOTB attire than the bandana-sporting smiley-face T-shirt Joe wore in the Hangin’ Tough Live video. Whatever became of it, you may wonder? Well, here’s the scoop.
Back in late 1980s, NKOTB fan Tricia R. had no idea that she was in a particularly unique position because her cousin just happened to be the tour manager for a little group called New Kids on the Block. Because Tricia didn’t know any differently, she didn’t completely grasp exactly how exceptional her arrangement was. “I didn’t think it was a big deal that my cousin worked for NKOTB. In my little mind, I just happened to like the group she worked for.” Though, admittedly, it was a big day in her life when Tricia got to meet Joe backstage before one of NKOTB’s Worcester Centrum shows when she was just seven years old. “I remember it was me and my mom and my friend, Allison. We went down through this underground, backstage area. I remember being in this weird hallway kind of area and then all of a sudden Joe came out. I just remember feeling really nervous and tingly like, ‘Oh, my god. He just touched my hand.’ And, also, not knowing exactly what was going on. I was definitely star-struck.”
But that meeting wasn’t the end of Tricia’s good fortune: One day Tricia’s cousin presented her with a gift—yup, you guessed it! None other than Joe’s smiley-face T-shirt. “I was eight or nine years old when I got it and was like, Oh, my god! And I would wear it to school—so nerdy. It’s actually a cut-off shirt—it was definitely a product of the 80s.” Tricia laughs, remembering, “I don’t think Joe knew [my cousin] took it. I remember her telling me, ‘I don’t think he knows it’s gone.’”
Um, sorry, Tricia. Actually, we’re not so sure about that …
June 11, 2011
This weekend, I witnessed a view usually experienced by only professional baseball players. I stood in centerfield of Fenway Park and saw a stadium full of screaming fans. I ran my hands along the Green Monster, walked on the dirt of the warning track, felt the outfield grass with my fingers. Hallowed ground – ground where the greats have played: Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Babe Ruth.
I love baseball. But this night, I wasn’t there for a ballgame.
For one magical night, the historic field transformed its form of worship from baseball to music. Those screaming fans I mentioned earlier weren’t screaming for the Red Sox. They were screaming for New Kids on the Block. Instead of nine ballplayers taking the field, five performers took the stage. Instead of singing along to “Sweet Caroline,” the fans were singing along to “The Right Stuff” and “I’ll Be Loving You Forever.” I watched an entire stadium swing their hands in the air to “Hangin’ Tough” while NKOTB sang it from the top of the Green Monster.
When the rain started falling, NKOTB sang louder, played harder, and the fans joined right along. Instead of rejoicing to a homerun or a no-hitter, the fans rejoiced in the moment: these five hometown boys doing a concert in Fenway Park. This was more than a concert. It was a historic moment in the lives of the performers and the audience. It was a celebration of 25 years of togetherness, 25 years of believing in each other.
Yesterday we ran an article about Donnie’s memories of the spontaneous Sacred Circle he hosted in Toronto. Today we thought we’d share fan Megs O.’s account of what it was like to be there that night.
“A few friends and I decided to go downtown Toronto one night to see if we could find Donnie, who was in town filming the pilot of Blue Bloods. After a short search, we found Donnie at his hotel waiting for his co-star to arrive so they could go over the next day’s lines. He said to those of us there that if we were around in an hour or so, he would try to come down and say hello to us again.
Well, true to his word, Donnie came down to the lobby around midnight and was talking with a few of us. Donnie is a very approachable guy, so when a few girls standing afar from him said something to the effect of “Are we allowed to come over to you?” Donnie said that he had to fix this real quick. He called all the people in the lobby over to the area with the couches and told us to sit in a circle. He said we are having the “first ever Sacred Circle.” He said that he did not want to be the only person there that night doing the talking and that he wanted us each to say our names and something about ourselves. So off we went, fifty women sharing personal moments and memories with a man whom we had all loved for over twenty years. Many were funny, some sad, but all were amazing. Donnie offered advice and wisdom to those who needed it. He shared memories from back when NKOTB first started, as well as more recent memories.
At one point the director of the Saw movies came around the corner to find Donnie sitting in a circle with the fifty of us sitting on the furniture and floor. He had a huge smile on his face and he asked Donnie what he was doing. Donnie told him, “Dan, you have joined our Sacred Circle.” Dan shared some wonderful stories about working with Donnie. It was very heart-warming to hear someone from the industry speak of Donnie in such a glowing way.
I will never forget how Donnie thanked all of us for just being us at the end and how he was amazed no one had brought up Twitter—it was just a night of friends talking with friends. After the Sacred Circle came to a close, the night was far from being over. Donnie asked for a volunteer to help him take pictures, so my friend and I took pictures of Donnie with every person in that lobby. Donnie probably spent at least another hour just taking pictures and hugging everyone good night.
This is a picture Donnie took with us that night and the following tweet accompanied it: @DonnieWahlberg: What happens when 50 NK fans and DDUB meet in a hotel lobby? A sacred circle is born! A magical night indeed!
Donnie’s tweet summed it up perfectly: A magical night fifty-one of us will never forget! I’m sure if you asked any one of us there that night if the child/young adult who first fell in love with New Kids all those years ago could ever imagine spending hours talking with one of our first loves, the answer would probably be no. But it really did happen. When we left the hotel that night, one of the hotel staff members told me how impressed she was that Donnie spent all that time with us. But that’s the amazing thing about these five guys—they are so immersed in the love the fans give them they can’t help but return that love.”
–Megs O. / Toronto, ON
Every fan has their own story. We’re hearing so many great ones, we thought we’d let them share theirs directly with you. First up, fan Jamie Farkas explains why NKOTB gave her and her mom much more than just music.
May 12-16, 2011
We couldn’t believe it when we sold the first NKOTB cruise (2009) out in one hour. One hour. That is not the norm. It was so unbelievable. Our system crashed. We couldn’t handle the calls. We were used to stretching cruise sales with other bands out over a couple weeks. With the New Kids, we had about 4,000 hits at one time and our original system couldn’t handle it. We’ve sold out the ship three times now, and actually had to move to a bigger ship in 2011. And if the ship were bigger, we would’ve sold it out too.
New Kids have a following that is just unbelievable. Donnie Wahlberg, he is a dynamo. I don’t have to tell you that he was out there on the Lido deck with fans until 5:00 in the morning. He didn’t have to be out there, but he was there because he just loves his fans.
–Billy “Billy from Philly” Roseman / Rose Tours